Nowhere in the book of Acts, which is the most complete history of the Early Church (group of believers), is there any suggestion of the position of Pope. Only gradually did the concept of an organized church – governed, directed, and regulated by a hierarchy of popes, bishops and priests – evolve. And even then, it did so despite widespread opposition.
It was Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (who died in 258 AD) who introduced the concepts that were to bring revolutionary changes in worship patterns within the church. Cyprian claimed that the bishop of Rome derived his authority directly from God and should therefore, be obeyed by all people.
In the years following, this concept was gradually introduced into existing practice, and church government eventually became almost completely autocratic. Believers in the truth, even in those days, were persecuted and murdered for their faith.
During the years 440 AD to 461 AD, Leo I, as the bishop of Rome, used all his considerable powers to establish recognition for the bishop of Rome as “the universal bishop”, having universal power over the Roman church. It was he who first made the claim that Peter had been the first pope. Leo’s claim was enforced through the power of the Roman Emperor, but received only marginal acceptance within the church.
Even the Council of Chalcedon, where Leo exercised great power, refused his request to certify his claims. His assertions of papal supremacy did, however, produce a profound effect in later years, although the doctrine of papal infallibility was not officially declared until 1970.
• Leo I (440-461 AD) advocated the death penalty for heresy.
Such transgressions as adultery, sodomy, simony, rape, murder, drunkenness and incest are among the iniquities that have been committed by Popes. In 1045 and 1046 there were three rival popes. During the reign of Alexander III (1159-1181 AD) there were four rival popes. At times the papal office was obtained through murder and bribery. To link such an office with men who have claimed to be the “Holy Father”, the “Vicar of Christ” and Bishop of bishops may sound shocking, but this is still the claim they make today. In truth, it is just another way in which Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13,14).
The incredible cruelty of the inquisition was initiated by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216 AD) and was to last for 500 years. This was a court whose purpose was to root out and punish heretics. The lands and properties of condemned heretics became the property of the Catholic church. It served two practical purposes – dissenters who disagreed with Catholic doctrines were silenced and the pope’s coffers were expanded.
People of all faiths were horribly tortured, tested, and tried during those centuries. Pope Innocent IV issued an official document, which stated that heretics – those who would not bow to the Roman system – were to be crushed like venomous snakes. His soldiers were promised property and remission of all their sins if they killed a heretic. Victims of the inquisition were stretched and torn apart on the “rack”. Some were crushed and stabbed to death in the “iron virgin”. There was the thumb-screw, an instrument made for disarticulating the fingers and “Spanish Boots” which were used to crush the legs and feet. Pincers were used to tear out fingernails or were applied red-hot to the sensitive parts of the body.
Every imaginable method of torture was used that fiendish men could imagine. Those who wouldn’t bow to the Pope’s system were shut up in caves and dungeons, nailed to trees, tormented with fires, scalded with oil or burning pitch; or melted lead was poured into their eyes, ears and mouths. They were also scalped, skinned, flayed alive; heads were twisted off and eyes gouged out; women were defiled, their breasts cut off; babies were brutally beaten, whipped, stabbed, dashed against trees – in front of their parents – then thrown to hungry dogs and swine. There are no official records of how many people were killed but estimates range from 25 to 50 million. Whatever the exact number, we know that millions were killed and murdered in the most hideous and cruel way during those dark ages by the persecutions that were promoted and directed by the papacy (Rev 17:6; 19:2).
Reading the above and considering the history of the Catholic Church, it is no wonder that the Bible refers to it as a beast and a dragon. It is even described as a red dragon and a scarlet colored beast (please read the page entitled ‘Recent Revelations on this web site). During major celebrations, in particular those involving cardinals, the predominant color is scarlet or red and this reference can also be found in the Bible.
The Roman Catholic church also refers to its cardinals as the princes of this world and this reference is also found in the Bible. Let us first explore the use of the color red in the Bible. Revelation 12:3. And behold a great red dragon. Revelation 17:3. And I saw a woman (false church) sit upon a scarlet colored beast.
A recent picture of newly appointed cardinals showed up recently in our local paper with the headline: “Church Princes Take Their Place”. The bible refers to the princes of this world in 1 Cor 2:6-8. It is important to remember that a cardinal’s most important job is to elect a new pope, who is chosen from their number, but not by God.
Revelation 17:4. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour.
When the Pope appointed 22 new cardinals a local paper reported on May 30, 1991: “The new cardinals, red hatted princes of the Roman Catholic Church…”
The same year, on June 3rd, another paper wrote: “Cardinals are the Pope’s closest advisers and, as princes of the church, his closest representatives around the world.”
On February 22, 1998, a local paper headlined an article on the cardinals of the Catholic church as follows: “Church princes take their place.”
Let us turn now to 1 Cor 2:6-8 where we read: “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Isn’t it amazing how this world has been blinded for so long. Christ Himself spoke the following words in Matthew 10:26. “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.”
Rev 17:4 also speaks about the woman (false church) being decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.
I have subscribed for many years to an international magazine. Many years ago it showed a picture of a golden chalice with the following inscription below:
Chalice made of gold and precious stones said to be taken from the trappings of a horse that a Turkish sultan presented to Pope Pius IX in the late 1800s.
It is no coincidence that the same words were used to describe the picture of the chalice as you find in Revelation 17:4. Seek and you will find the truth for yourself (Matt 7:7).